Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Slub Linen Arden Pants

I wanted to drop a quick post about the trousers that I was wearing in my last post about the Lou Box Top, because I feel they deserve some attention of there own. These days I only buy fabric if I have a very clear idea of what it'll become. Sometimes I even have a specific pattern in mind, sometimes not. And when I do by some fabric, I really try (but often fail) to use it before long, so it doesn't become another piece of stashed fabric. With this linen, I DID manage to use it within a few weeks of purchasing. WIN! Zoe, 1 : Stash, 0. 


A few months ago, Fabric Godmother (where I work part-time) got in some lovely, slubby linen in navy with white flecks (sadly now sold out, sorry). It had such lovely drape and body and movement, but I reminded myself that I hadn't sewn up the last lot of fabric I bought yet, so couldn't justify buying more at that point. Then a couple of weeks later I saw my colleague Claire wearing a pair of Merchant & Mills 101 Trousers made in the same linen and they looked AMAZING. Claire has incredible taste and buys fabric only when she sees something INCREDIBLY special. I decided that if Claire felt this was some good stuff, then it would be an investment to get some for myself.

For a few years now I've been interested in creating 'summer jeans': bottoms that are really comfy and that will go with so many other items in my wardrobe that they get worn ALL THE TIME during the warmer months. I felt that this almost denim-y look linen might fit the bill. 


There are soooo many elasticated-waist woven bottoms patterns out there now that it's almost impossible to keep track of them all. But the one that instantly appealed to me the most (apart from the Luna pants pattern by Made by Rae, which I feel is more suitable to very drape-y fabrics) is the Arden Pants pattern by Helen's Closet. I was lucky enough to receive this pattern for free shortly after it was released and I've tried it a couple of times so I had a good idea of the fit I could expect and the size I should use. 

I love the elasticated ankle views included in this pattern, but I chose to make the regular hem that I wear turned up hoping they will be suited to a wider range of outfit vibes. The construction of these trousers is very simple, but with some nice details like topstitched seams that should ensure longevity. In hindsight, I should have added some stabilisation to the pocket mouths though, because I'm pretty sure they will stretch out over time. 

The only other issue I have with these trousers is that I can't decide if the waist should sit higher up near my natural waist (which I like to look of more), or lower on my hips (which feels more comfortable but I don't like the way my belly protrudes a bit over the top!). I'm erring to the former/higher position, but I need to tighten the waist elastic to stop them from slipping down. The pattern calls for topstitching through the waistband after the elastic has been inserted. I really like the look of that, but I find it makes the elastic less effective and looser after the topstitching has been added. For future pairs, I should probably overcompensate and make the elastic too tight to begin with. Or include the step to insert a cord or tie through the waist so you can tighten them up when worn.


In short: I have achieved my summer jeans! I have worn them A TON since making them (I'm wearing them right now, in fact). They look great with all sorts of casual tops, and I'm interested to see how far into autumn I can get away with wearing them before I feel too cold. I definitely plan to make another version or two of this pattern in the future, perhaps slimming them down through the hip ever so slightly. 

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Lou Box Top Kit

A couple of months ago I was the grateful recipient of a kit to make the Lou Box Top pattern. The pattern itself is by Sew DIY, however, the kit came from Craft & Thrift, purveyors of vintage, thrifted and deadstock fabric. Amy, owner of Craft & Thrift, was a guest on my podcast Check Your Thread recently, so check out episodes 5 and 6 to hear my super enjoyable conversation with her. 

In the kit you get the printed pattern instructions, the printed pattern pages (you need to stick them together), 2m of deadstock jersey and a recycled rPET Gutermann thread. The particular kit I received included some lovely, slubby black viscose/poly/cotton blend, but they have many different colours available. This may depend on the size you choose to make, but I found you could make two tops from the fabric length included.

The Lou Box Top pattern has been around for a while, so there are plenty of other versions out there to check out. It’s a pretty size inclusive pattern, going up to 56” bust I believe. I have so much time for fairly basic patterns that feature different versions, that can be used over and over (as Amy herself can attest to!). The pattern includes two necklines (I picked the scoop), three hem lines (I went for the curved), optional patch pocket AND it can be made in knits or wovens. You need to add a CB seam and small button closure at the back neck if using woven fabric.

For yonks I’ve fancied a slinky, ever-so-slightly-sheer loose T-shirt. They look so effortless and comfy. I’m delighted that I now have one! I’m absolutely keeping these kits in mind as a gift idea for someone that is fairly new to sewing, or at least is new to sewing with knits. 

Friday, 3 September 2021

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Speedy Pants (Boxers AND Briefs Edition)

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

Today I'm writing about a free pattern that I've road tested and written about before, nearly two years ago in fact. I've also included it in a number of free pattern round up blog posts, plus I spoke about it in episode 4 of my new podcast, Check Your Thread. It's such a great pattern, and potentially so useful for parents/carers who like to sew, that I'm not even sorry that I bang on about it so much! We are, of course, talking about the Speedy Pants pattern by Waves and Wild (formerly Made by Jacks Mum). You can access the pattern by adding them to the cart on their site (you won't be charged), as well as via the Waves and Wild Facebook Group (I believe) and at the bottom of their regular newsletter, which I've subscribed to. 

My previous post about this pattern can be found here, a lot of which I've copy-and-pasted into this one. However, I talked about only the briefs style in that post, and now that I've had a chance to try out the boxers style (both are included in the pattern, see spec drawings below), I've included more details about that version in this post. Thanks heaps to Waves and Wild for making this gem of a pattern available for free. 

(image source: Waves & Wild)

Pattern type:

As previously stated, the Speedy Pants pattern download includes briefs and boxers styles. Both styles are finished with strips of fabric which form the waist and leg bands: no elastic required. Each pair could be made entirely on an overlocker, however instructions for using a regular sewing machine are also included. 

The briefs pattern consists of a front piece, a back piece, a gusset, plus the dimensions to draft your waistband and leg band pieces. The boxers pattern is one main pattern piece that is cut on the fold at the centre back. There is also a front gusset piece (not seamed in the centre like the spec drawing above suggests, however), and the dimensions to draft your waistband and leg band pieces. 

The pattern files consist of instructions, print a home pattern pages, A0 pattern page as well as projector files. The print at home version (I haven't checked the A0) features the layers function, so you can print out only the size you require. 

Sizing info:

Both styles are graded to a generous size range of 6-12 months to 12 years. I've made countless pairs of these undies now across a variety of sizes, and find the fit pretty accurate, age-wise. That said, looking back at the original post I wrote about this pattern, I've realised that most of the pairs I made for my daughter when she turned six are still in regular rotation close to two years later! I think that the fabric bands tend to 'give' more than the traditional elastic used in undies-making, particularly over time with repeated wear and laundering. Therefore, these undies might have a longer lifespan than shop-bought undies.

Fabric info:

The fabric suggestion for this pattern is 4-way stretch jersey. I'd go further and say that a decent elastane/Lycra/spandex content is essential for the bands so that they hold their shape for more than a handful of wears, and generally advisable for the other pieces too for maximum comfort. As I highlighted in my Favourite Scraps Projects podcast episode, this is an excellent pattern to use if you have scraps of jersey to use up.

Because I've made so many pairs of undies using the briefs version of this pattern, I've been able to do plenty of experimenting and collecting of data to see how different jerseys behave (or don't) over time. By now I think I've got a fairly good idea of what's going to work well and have a long life. The way I approach selecting fabric for this pattern is to begin by dividing all my jersey scraps into three piles: 1) single jersey with great stretch and recovery (mostly cotton/elastane blends) that I know will be perfect for these pants, the band pieces HAVE to be made from this category, 2) other jerseys that will be ok for the fronts, backs and gusset, especially if they're combined with fabrics from the first pile, and 3) all the jerseys that were too thin and drape-y, or with poor stretch and recovery that are NOT suitable for this project. Then I see what I can use up and what fun combos can be made. However, as you can see, most of the pairs I've made using the boxers version so far consist of only one fabric all over because I had some larger pieces in my stash to use up. The boxers pattern doesn't lend itself quite so well as the briefs version to scrap busting because of that one main pattern piece. However, I have made side seams in a couple of these pairs so the pattern pieces could fit on smaller pieces of fabric. 


As you can probably tell, I'm so happy to have found this pattern! The pattern itself is well produced, and the instructions are illustrated with step-by-step photos and easy to follow. The wide size range should see most kids through to when they start to wear adult sizes. So if you have a big enough jersey scraps bin, plus sufficient will and patience, you may never need to look elsewhere for kids' pants again. 

Clearly, making these pants is addictive, but I must admit that making a massive batch in one go can get a bit much. Pinning tiny leg bands into tiny leg holes can definitely start to get old. Instead, I would recommend making a pair or two every now and again, as a palette cleanser between larger sewing projects perhaps. That's one of the reasons that I always make them a size or two in advance: so there's no need to panic-batch sew a whole stack of pants.

My little boy hasn't started wearing these boxers yet so I haven't had any feedback, but I wonder if hemming the leg holes rather than finishing them with bands might be more comfortable. I know my husband didn't like a pair I made him years ago that had a banded hem. I think for future versions I'll try lengthening the legs of the boxer style pattern and hemming the bottom edges instead of the bands, which will reduce the fiddle-iness also! 

For my previous pairs using the briefs version of the pattern, I made a couple of tweaks to the fit. For both Frankie and Dolores, I ended up raising the waistline at the centre back fold by 1cm, blending the curve down to the original waistline by the side seam. And for Dolores, I found that the gusset area was too wide: there was just too much fabric there. To amend this, I narrowed the front and gusset pieces by 0.75cm-ish where it was needed, therefore narrowing it by 1.5cm-ish in total. I found for Frankie that this wasn't necessary. 

The only other point I'd suggest is to include some kind of label or loop of ribbon so they can identify the back quickly.

Customisation ideas:

  • Try piecing together smaller pieces of really small pieces awesome fabrics until the sections are big enough to cut the pattern shapes out of (I think this would work better for the briefs style)
  • Use swim Lycra to make swimming trunks or bottoms
  • If you have some thin and soft enough, replace the leg hole bands on the briefs version with fold over elastic or special undies elastic
  • As mentioned above, consider lengthening the legs of the boxer style pattern and hemming the bottom edges instead of adding bands
  • Use width, soft elastic around the top edge instead of a fabric band for a more 'shop-bought' look, if that's what you're after

Would I make it again?

OF COURSE. I have already used this pattern to make what feels like a trillion pairs of little undies. And now that I've busted out the boxers style as well, I have renewed interest in making heaps more! 

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Zero Waste Cropped Shirt: Two Attempts


Earlier this summer I bought the ZW Cropped Shirt pattern by Swedish designer, Birgitta Helmersson. There are some really inspiring versions of this pattern on Instagram. Zero waste sewing patterns are unlike regular patterns in that you receive a set of measurements to help you draw shapes directly onto your fabric, rather than paper pieces to cut out and pin on to your fabric. There is zero or very little wasted fabric from this approach, so you often need far less fabric to begin with than with a typical sewing project. For example, the short sleeve version of this shirt in the smaller size range (there are two size ranges available covering bust sizes 33"- 40" and 41" -  50") requires just 90cm of fabric. 

(image source: Birgitta Helmersson)

Attempt #1:

For my first attempt, I used 1m of checked cotton that I thrifted (see below). I really enjoyed this new approach to garment creation, although the project fought me at every turn! Partly the problems occurred because the check is slightly different on each side and I kept messing up my right and wrong sides. The fabric was a little stiff for the sleeves, so I unpicked them, halved them and restitched. Sadly the proportions of this top just weren't right for me, so I found it a new loving home with my friend Sophie, and tried the pattern again a couple of months later when more suitable fabric appeared. 

Attempt #2:

For my second attempt, I used the leftovers of the curtain I used for my recent summer dungers. One of the things I really love about this pattern is how customisable to your own preferences it is. This time I narrowed the width of the body by 5cm front and back (so 10cm all round). I also used the original length (I'd lengthened it by about 5cm for the first version) and tried a version of the long, gathered sleeve hack that is covered in the pattern instructions. For the sleeves, I effectively just used as much of the fabric that I had left and thankfully, I'm thrilled with the volume and length that came out!


I've been wearing this a whole lot since making it. It works well as a top, of course, but also as a kind of summer jacket layer when the weather is a bit changeable. It can be layered over other tops, either buttoned up or left open.  

You can't see them very clearly, but the buttons are ones I've had in my stash for over a decade. I'm pretty sure they came from a market stall when I lived in Barcelona. They have the club symbol from playing cards on them. Playing card symbols have always had a significance for me, not least because I was a croupier for a couple of years in my early twenties! The background colour of the buttons is a dark grey, which suits this fabric perfectly because the black curtain is quite a washed out shade. 

What I'm most surprised about it how soft this curtain feels to wear! I'm definitely on the look out for similar curtains for other future sewing projects. It's such a great way to get a lot of fabric for relatively little money, plus they're often 100% cotton (therefore biodegradable and easily dyed), AND it's not creating additional need for virgin textiles. 

Monday, 9 August 2021

Washed Denim Nia Trousers Remake


I'm a big fan of Belgian sewing pattern brand Bel' Etoile. They have a lovely range of patterns for women and children available in Dutch and English. Previously I've bought the Isa sweatshirt pattern and used the free Siem shorts pattern (which I reviewed here), and recently I tried the Nio/Nia pattern to make these trousers for my daughter. 


I'd had my eye on the Nia trousers for some time because the style is very similar to a thrifted pair of trousers that Lola used to love to wear but has since grown out of. Amusingly, it's also very similar to the Helen's Closet Arden pants pattern that I'm currently working on for myself! 

(image source: Bel' Etoile)

The Nio/Nia pattern is good value because it includes a trousers/shorts pattern as well as a top pattern, both of which include a number of style options and variations for kids of all genders. I can image I'll use the bottoms pattern a lot for both my kids over the decade or so. 


The fabric I used for these trousers is the 4oz washed denim from Fabric Godmother, although I can't remember if it was the blue or indigo colour way because I bought it several years ago and the dye batches vary quite a lot. I used the same type of washed denim to make a Tova top and a Block Tee (formerly Kabuki tee)

About two years ago, I used this fabric in an attempt to make some 'summer jeans' using the trouser version of the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold jumpsuit pattern. I got very close to finishing, but a mid-way fitting indicated that they were going to look terrible on me, so I abandoned the project! Thankfully, I kept hold of the half-made item and was able to finally reuse it to make these. 

If you look closely, you may notice that the fabric on the inside of the pocket mouth on one side is a slightly paler colour. That's because I made a mistake when cutting the pocket pieces, so had to use another remnant of the same type of washed denim instead, which happened to be a lighter colour. I know that this fabric tends to fade with washing (in a really lovely way), so I expect the difference will be less noticeable over time. 


I wasn't sure Lola would accept these trousers because her beloved pair that was a similar style was made from viscose, and she noted that these don't feel as slinky. However, she's worn them a couple of times with some light suggestion, and today I noticed that she chose to wear them without any input from me at all! If they look ok by the time Lola is done with them, I'll hold onto them for Frankie. I already have another pair planned for Lola in a printed cotton, plus a shorts version for Frankie for next year from some leftover slub linen that I'm currently working with. 

Friday, 6 August 2021

Free Pattern Friday: Adult's Playsuit (Hacked)

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

It's the second month in a row that I'm posting about a free sewing pattern from the amazing resource that is the Peppermint Magazine's sewing pattern range. Can you blame me?! There's so many summer-friendly styles that are quick to make and easy to wear. The patterns are really easy to access; the A4 and A0 pattern files plus instruction documents are downloaded directly from each style's webpage, with just a sign up to their newsletter required (which you can obviously unsubscribe from, should you wish). It is also easy to donate a few quid to say thanks and to support this wonderful resource if you can afford to.

A couple of months ago I saw a woman in my local park walking her dog whilst wearing some black, linen-y cropped dungarees that looked amazing. I immediately identified them as the kind of summer dungarees that I wanted in my life! After giving it some thought, I realised that I could create something similar using the Peppermint Magazine playsuit pattern as the basis.... 

(image source: Peppermint Magazine

Pattern type:

This summer playsuit pattern, designed by Emily from In The Folds, is a cute little romper with tie straps, patch pockets and a concealed side-zip fastening. The fit is designed to be close fitting around the bust, with more looseness around the waist and hips with additional ease. 

As you have no doubt noticed, I lengthened the legs to mid-calf length. Where I live, the weather doesn't reach roasting-hot many days during the year, so I felt that I'd get more use from a longer version. 

Sizing info:

This pattern is graded to ten sizes, from 30" to 51.5" bust and 33" to 54.5" hip. I usually I have to grade out between by bust and waist/hips, but because there's more design ease through the waist and hips anyway, I made the straight size D and the fit worked out fine for me.

Fabric info:

The pattern advise is as follows: 'Consider using light to mid-weight fabrics such as: linen, linen blends, cotton, gauze or chambray. You could also consider sateen, silk (crepe de chine or habotai), tencel or viscose (rayon) for a dressier look. For a boxier silhouette, consider light-weight denims or heavy-weight cottons.' 

For mine, I used a light-weight, cotton canvas curtain that I found in a charity shop. It's pretty soft, and has just the right amount of body to avoid VPLs or anything like that. 


I got this pattern printed using an A0 printing service, so I already set myself off on the right foot with this project! As with the other Peppermint Mag patterns I've tried, including others designed by In The Folds, this was a pleasure to use. The instructions are lengthy enough to impart all you'll need to know, without being overly fussy and confusing. Overall, I found the construction process was logical and straight forward. 

I'm pretty happy with the finished item. The model in the photos is wearing the sample without anything underneath in most of the photos, which I think most people (and definitely me!) would find uncomfortably revealing. I love wearing mine as seen here, with a basic, tight-ish fitting knit top underneath. 

Literally my only criticism is that I think there should been a small bust dart positioned from the armpit. That area gapes a little, and for any one fairly full-busted, I'd recommend making a toile/muslin, or at least having a fitting before cutting out the front facing piece, to see if it's something you could use. 

Would I make it again?

Hmm... possibly? There's a lot of dungarees patterns out there that are on my radar to try, but I wouldn't rule out using this again as the basis for another project. 

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Check Your Thread: I've Started a Podcast!

I know, I know, I've been keeping it quiet! I always feel weird about mentioning a project before it's ready to go, call me superstitious. But after making the initial plan about two years ago, my new podcast FINALLYYYYYY out there in the world! I really hope you'll have a listen...

Each week Check Your Thread will look at how to sew more sustainably, through inspiring conversation and fun explorations. For those of us who are concerned about the climate crisis but love sewing our own clothes, it's an opportunity to nerd out about garment sewing, whilst figuring out ways to reduce the impact it may have on the planet. In the first episode, I take everyone on a journey through my sewing history, from fashion student, to garment industry employee, to sewing blogger, to dressmaking teacher and more. I do this to illustrate what inspired me to start Check Your Thread, plus I explain what you can expect from future episodes. 

You can listen to the first episode (and all future episodes) via the player directly on the Check Your Thread website. Alternatively you'll be able to listen through your favourite podcasting app (although I've been told that the Google podcast app is taking an additional couple of days to verify a new podcast). It's currently available through the Apple podcast app, Stitcher and Spotify. 

I've got some fantastic, inspiring guests already lined up and I can't wait to share the conversations. Plus there's some interesting solo episodes also in the works. I've decided to keep this podcast ad-free as I want to feel free to share my thoughts without feeling compromised by obligations to sponsors. I've set up a Check Your Thread Patreon, so for the equivalent of the cost of a cup of coffee each month, listeners can contribute to help cover costs and keep this project going. 

There'll also be a monthly Check Your Thread newsletter that you can sign up for on the website. If you have any feedback, comments or suggestions for future episodes, please find me on Instagram @checkyourthread or email me at zoe@checkyourthread dot com. 

Thanks so much for your support!

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Scrap Busting Jersey T-shirts


During the winter lockdown, I was without an overlocker. Now, I know that you can sew any garment on a regular machine: that overlockers are entirely optional. I have told people this a million times during sewing classes I've taught. However, I just didn't want to make anything that wouldn't look as neat on the inside as I've become used to. 

Because of this, the only things I made were oven mitts that have no exposed seam allowance plus a couple of items with french seams. I also cut out a few projects to stitch together in the future, and I allowed myself to go down a rabbit hole that resulted in these wild patchwork tops! 

I'm really into the idea of using up fabric scraps and leftovers from previous projects to make new garments. Most examples of this kind of thing, including most of my previous attempts, involve woven fabric. However, in the autumn I made a couple of sweatshirts for Frankie using up pieces of sweatshirt fleece and ponte roma pieced together, which really helped me get those types of scraps under control. So the next logical step was to try something similar with jersey scraps. 

My jersey scraps tub was becoming overwhelming. I'd cut out as many pairs of adult and kids undies as possible from suitable pieces of jersey, but I was left with so many pieces that were too small or odd-shaped to squeeze out any more. I decided to try piecing some of them together to make a top for my daughter. And when my husband saw what I was creating, to my enormous surprise, he commissioned one for himself! 


My approach to piecing was to play around with how I could combine some of the shapes without needing to trim too much away whilst also keeping the grainlines in roughly the same direction. If the edges weren't straight, or at not quite the right angle, I'd trim away a bit from the edge, then I stitched two pieces together using my regular sewing machine. I stitched them using a narrow seam allowance and a narrow lightning flash stitch which meant the seam allowances weren't too bulky. I kept adding more and more shapes until the bigger pieces could be combined, and eventually became big enough to fit the pattern pieces within them. 


If you are attempting to create jersey tops from scraps and leftovers, you either need to use a sewing pattern that already features a lot of seams (like the new Shift tee pattern by Misusu patterns), or you need to do the piecing yourself and choose a very simply sewing pattern with minimal seams. For my daughter's top, I chose a very basic top pattern (see the two images below) from a 2014 edition of Ottobre Design magazine. 

It's effectively just a front and back, with a neckband. I forgot that the armholes were also meant to be bound, and I just turned those under and stitched them. I love Ottobre Design for these basic, knit fabric garment patterns. Their styles tend to be really wearable and comfortable, and IMO don't look dated. I got a year's subcsription back in 2013 when I was pregnant with my daughter. As she's grown, she's fitted into the different styles in the magazines, so it's been like getting new sets of patterns every few years.

For Mr SoZo's T-shirt, I traced round one of his very favourite T-shirts that was starting to fall apart at the seams. Next time I make him a T-shirt from the pattern, I'll add a little extra width at the hips, but other than that, it's a great fitting garment. 

Having cut out the main pattern pieces from the pieced together fabric, they then lay dormant for a few months. During that time we moved house, seasons changed, and I bought a new (secondhand) overlocker! So a couple of weeks ago I took them out again and finally whipped them together. 

It's so pleasing to reduce the amount of scraps in my stash (particularly the pieces that I'd owned for years and was sick of the sight of) and turn them into useful, wearable garments. I'd say that the colour palette in Lola's top works better, but Pat has definitely got more use from his T-shirt so far. The scraps bins will never be completely emptied of course, because new projects results in new scraps. However, I'd like to try making undies from pieces together fabric next, with wearability being even less of a consideration when combining a wild selection of fabrics.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Free Pattern Friday: Adult's Valley Jumpsuit

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

Friends, have I got a blinding free pattern to tell you about today?! (Short answer: yes.) You've probably already heard of the amazing resource that is the Peppermint Magazine's collection of free sewing patterns. But if you haven't: this Australia-based magazine employs the talents of an indie pattern designer to produce a free sewing pattern to coincide with the release of each print edition of their magazine. The magazine is released quarterly, so that's four incredible new free sewing patterns a year with 41 patterns already available to trawl through. The patterns are really easy to access; the A4 and A0 pattern files plus instruction documents are downloaded directly from each style's webpage, with just a sign up to their newsletter required (which you can obviously unsubscribe from, should you wish). It is also easy to donated a few quid if you can afford to, and seeing as print magazines are generally in a precarious position these days, I think it's important to do so to say thanks and to support this wonderful resource. 

Pattern type:

The pattern I've just road tested and am writing about today is the Valley jumpsuit. Designed by RaphaĆ«lle Bonamy of Ready To Sew patterns, the Valley jumpsuit is a casual, super wearable style with elasticated waist, button front and large patch pockets. I absolutely love that the instructions are available in English, French and Spanish. The design itself is is really clever, consisting of just three pattern pieces that need to be cut from your fabric. The bodice and sleeves are ingeniously formed from just one pattern piece that you cut a pair of, and in the same vein, the trouser part has no side seams so is also made from one pattern piece. To get the garment on and off, the button front is assisted by a small back neck closure to open things up sufficiently.

Sizing info:

There's so much talk in the sewing community in recent months (years?) about size inclusivity, and many pattern companies are listening and expanding their offerings. I think the sizing of this particular pattern is a great example of what we'll see from most sewing pattern releases in the future. Spilt into two ranges (sizes 32 - 46 drafted for a B-cup and sizes 46 - 58 drafted for a D-cup) resulting in busts from 31" to 54" and hips from 35" to 60" approx. being catered for. In total the pattern has been graded to 28 sizes, including half sizes, which should help you to achieve an accurate fit. I appreciated that the garment ease for bust, waist and hips has been shared to give additional information when picking a size/s, because who wants to toile/muslin a whole damn jumpsuit?!

For mine, I used the size 38 for the top part of the bodice, and blended out to the size 40 below the bust for the waist downwards. According to the size chart, I should have gone for a larger size for the waist, but the elasticated waist meant that I was easily able to accommodate by tum. 

Fabric info:

The Valley jumpsuit instructions suggest that you select 'light weight fabric with drape ranging from tencel, cupro, linen, ramie or hemp, batik, poplin or light denim' for this pattern. 

This is my third jumpsuit made from African fabric, I just think they're a match made in heaven, and I'm sure this will end up getting as much use as the other two get. This particular fabric was given to me by Wax and Wraps, who sell African textiles by the metre, or in fantastic, monthly, sewing subscription boxes. It's a printed version of a traditional fabric from Cameroon called Ndop that's usually resist dyed with indigo. Check out this interesting article for more info on Ndop. This fabric I used for my jumpsuit is a wonderful, light-weight cotton with a similar handle to a poplin, but slightly less crisp. Because there's a linear aspect to the print design, there's a noticeable chevron effect at the centre back seam of the bodice, which I really love. The fabric was slightly narrower than the pattern called for, plus the fabric matching gave me some additional head-scratching, and I ended up having add a seam and piece the fabric to fit one of the bodice pattern pieces. I defy you to spot where it is in the finished garment though! 


Going back through the instructions to write this post, I'm still blown away by the inclusivity of the sizing. I'm sure that sadly there are still a number of sewers that aren't able to fit this pattern who otherwise would have liked to have tried it, but that really has to be small minority. I'm also still really impressed by the drafting: that such a cool-looking, well-fitting style has been achieved with effectively just two pattern pieces. However, because there are so few pattern pieces, and subsequently fewer seams, I wonder if this style offers fewer opportunities for making fit adjustments, I don't know. 

Anyways, on top of my standard blending between sizes, I also shortened the bodice length by 1.5cm to allow for my short-waistedness (AKA high natural waist line). I usually have to remove about 2cm of length from the torso area of all sewing patterns I make, yet this time I wish that I hadn't. If I make another, I'll add that measurement back in because raising my arms up isn't the most comfortable! I might also lengthen the front and back rise on the bottom part a bit, because the rise on this garment is definitely higher than the rise on my other jumpsuits (my Zadie jumpsuit, pattern by Paper Theory and my Roberts Collection jumpsuit, pattern by Marilla Walker). If you are tall and/or have a long torso, I'd definitely recommend lengthening the bodice pieces before you cut out your fabric. It's always easier to remove any extra length that it turns out you didn't need, than to try and figure out how to add in some extra length later on.

Speaking of cutting out your fabric, one downside to having just two mammoth pattern pieces as opposed to a number of smaller ones is that I found that I wasted quite a bit of fabric in the lay. This was compounded by the fact that I had some pattern matching to consider. However, even though you have to cut the pattern out of a single layer of fabric, the cutting out process was probably quicker and potentially less of a headache than a pattern that consists of more pieces. 

When it came to the actual sewing, the instructions were wonderfully clear and easy to follow. To prevent the instructions document from becoming too unwieldy, some steps are included as links to posts on the Ready To Sew website, or in the case of the steps for making the waist casing, a YouTube video. This provides space for more detail and clearer visuals for these potentially tricky bits. I'm sure it's particularly helpful for visual learners, and turns this pattern into a real learning opportunity for beginner sewers.  

As I mentioned above, I would have preferred a tiny bit more length in the body and possibly the rise, but beyond that, I am genuinely thrilled with this jumpsuit! I wasn't sure initially that I liked the look of the patch pockets. I added them thinking that I could remove them at a later date, however I really like their placement and proportions now they're on the actual garment. 

Customisation ideas:

  • Shorten the sleeves
  • Shorten the leg length to make a playsuit/romper
  • Add a side seam to the trouser section then taper or widen the leg shape for some different looks. It's amazing what this can do to completely alter the feel of a garment
  • Adding a side seam to the bottom section also allows you the possibility to add inseam or slanted pockets if you'd prefer 
  • Change the neckline to a V-neck
  • Use smaller buttons and group them in pairs

Would I make it again?

Yes I could easily see myself making more of these, probably in a solid fabric, a black linen perhaps. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...